For any fantasy freaks out there who might be interested: I drafted my first fantasy basketball team of the year earlier tonight. It’s a CBS Sports Platinum league that costs $100 bucks to enter, and pays $600 for first. So I guess this is my first NBA bet of the year. There will be more.
There are 12 teams in this league, managed by guys I know nothing about. Except that they are very competitive fantasy players. The level of play in these leagues is quite high. And its probable that a number of the players in each league are good friends, so I will be dealing with some mild collusion during the season. It’s all good, though. I enjoy the challenge, and like my chances to do better than break-even in the long run.
This particular league is in a rotisserie format, with 8 scoring categories: Points, 3 pointers made, FG%, FT%, Assists, Rebounds, Blocks, and Steals. Some leagues also include TO’s (which I actually prefer, it’s an interesting complication), but the guys in this league apparently didn’t want that. There are 13 roster spots, with 3 reserves and 10 starters, to be broken down as follows: 4 guards, 4 forwards, 1 center, and 1 flex (any position).
Here’s how my draft went (the three columns show the draft position, the player and his position eligibility):
- 2 Lebron James F
- 23 Brandan Roy G
- 26 Al Horford C
- 47 Raymond Felton G
- 50 Gilbert Arenas G
- 71 Kevin Martin G
- 74 Marcus Camby F
- 95 Marcus Thornton G
- 97 Channing Frye C
- 119 Boris Diaw F
- 122 Dorell Wright F
- 143 Nicolas Batum G
- 146 Reggie Williams F
You might recognize a few home-town picks there towards the end…. Here’s my pick by pick analysis:
Lebron: Lebron was actually the 3rd ranked player in the draft, so although its nice to have one of the top 2 picks, my pick was not a slam-dunk. Kevin Durant was ranked first and went first, Chris Paul was ranked second and went fourth, after Dwyane Wade (a clear mistake, imo). There are several reasons I took Lebron. First was that Chris Paul’s knee represents a significant injury risk in my opinion. I’m not saying he won’t be a good player this season, but if you draft him 2 you need him to be great. I didn’t like the way he played at the end of last season. Second, Lebron’s stats have been severely discounted because of his move to Miami. CBS has him forecast for 21 ppg , after averaging close to 30 the last 3 years. I think there’s room for upside in that forecast, don’t you? I also see room for upside in his rebound forecast of 7.5, given that I expect him to log a lot more time at power forward. And there even may be upside in his assist forecast of 8, given that the Heat are talking about playing without a point guard (with a backcourt of Wade and Miller). Third, I just love the flexibility Lebron gives me in building my roster. Given that I’m not drafting an elite point guard, his assists give me the valuable ability to fill my guard slots with combo guards without losing the assists category. As you will see.
By the way, if I had drafted third, I would have taken Stephen Curry. This would have been a mistake, but not a huge one. Curry is currently the 6th ranked fantasy player in many leagues, and with Paul, Kobe and Wade currently fading injury questions, the actual gap is probably not that big. Also Curry is forecast to average 6 assists this year, which I think is low by as much as 4, and certainly 2. And also of course, I’m a shameless homer, as many posters will tell you.
Roy: It was a long wait to my second pick at 23rd. I would have taken Monta here (ranked 26th), but he was taken 16th! I think Monta is primed for a huge fantasy year, particularly in terms of his scoring efficiency. With a balanced squad, a reduced playing weight of 185, and new happiness and contentment, I expect Monta to return to his pre-injury greatness. Someone in my league apparently agrees with me.
Roy is a great consolation prize. Like Paul, Roy has injury concerns, but unlike the drafter of Paul, I got Roy at a huge discount. If he returns to form, he is a first-round value. I like value in fantasy drafts: it wins.
Horford: This was an uninspired pick — Horford is ranked 28th. I just didn’t like my other options, and figured it would help my flexibility to get this tough to fill position taken care of. I like the fact that Horford is young and still has upside; and also that he may finally get some time at the four this season. But he leaves me with a big problem in blocked shots: he doesn’t get them.
Felton: Felton is the last player I thought I would wind up with in this draft. I didn’t like him enough to reach for him early, but I never expected him to be available at 47: he’s ranked 35. A huge steal for me here.
Arenas: Don’t like him as a man, hate him as a basketball player. But as a fantasy basketball player? I love the upside potential he represents. Arenas is ranked 43rd, I drafted him at 50. So there’s a little value cushion there already, but if something goes right, Arenas has the potential to really help me win the league. Things that could go right: 1) Arenas swallows his pride and becomes a great backcourt partner for John Wall, or 2) Arenas plays well enough, and looks healthy enough, to get moved to a playoff contender at the trading deadline. If things go horribly, I protected myself nicely I think with the selections of Thornton and Williams later in the draft.
One other thing: by taking Arenas in combination with Lebron and Roy, I think my team is set in the assists category even going with only one point guard. In fact, I think I might be a favorite to win that category at this point.
Martin: Ranked 68th, taken 71st. Martin played great for Houston at the end of the year last year. This year, his second back from injury, and second with Houston, could be even better. My third, possibly 4th, 20 ppg man on the roster.
Camby: Ranked 71st, taken 74th. I really needed Camby, as he solves my shot-blocking problem and helps me greatly with my second biggest roster weakness: rebounding. It was a bit of a gamble not taking him 71st, but the poker player in me thought I would lose Kevin Martin if I did. Interestingly, Camby only qualifies at forward. I still need a backup center.
Thornton: Ranked 89, taken 95. Thornton shot lights out at the end of his rookie season, averaging over 20 ppg in the last few months. His peripheral stats are weak. Still, a nice insurance policy for Arenas, with possible upside.
Frye: Ranked 113, taken 97. I reached here. I didn’t like the players around this part of the draft, and I like the flexibility Frye gives me to supercharge my 3 point shooting if needed. I didn’t plan this move, and in fact came into the draft wanting to avoid all Phoenix players: I think the team will have a disastrous season. If there is one player on the team that may benefit from the loss of Stoudemire though, I think it might be Frye. Like everyone else, he’ll be more closely guarded, but he may get a lot more playing time.
Diaw: Ranked 109, taken 119. I’m not that high on Diaw, but I need forwards and didn’t expect him to be available here. A good value. Tyrus Thomas may eat into his minutes, but on the other hand there are a lot of rumors he’s about to be traded to a team that wants him more than Larry Brown, and knows how to use him better than Larry Brown.
I think tacking on Diaw now makes me a lock in the assists category.
Dorell Wright: Ranked 115, taken 122. Despite the slight value according to the ranking, probably my least satisfatory pick, because it cost me my shot at Corey Maggette. Maggette is a specialist in fantasy basketball, in one specific category. Can you guess which one?
FT%. At 8 free throws a game, and 80%, Maggette can fix any problems you have in this category by himself. My team really didn’t need him though, because I avoided Biedrins at 16%.
On the other hand, Wright is forecast very modestly: 7.5 ppg, 41 3 pointers, 4 rbs, 1.3 assists, .7 steals, .6 blocks. It doesn’t take too active an imagination to see him beating those projections. Certainly not more imagination than feltbot, shameless homer, possesses!
Batum: Ranked 133, taken 143. I’m very surprised not just that Batum was available here, but also that he was ranked as low as 133. I think Batum is a great young player who could be primed for a breakout year now that he’s the clear starter in Portland. I definitely think he’ll exceed his 8.5 ppg forecast.
Reggie Williams: My biggest reach of the draft, by far. Reggie was ranked off the chart, at 251! Apparently, the prognosticators see him merely as an unproven reserve. I don’t. I predict Reggie will get 30 minutes per game, not just backing up Dorell Wright, but also filling virtually every minute that Monta and Curry are not on the court together. I expect Reggie to be the Warriors primary backup at the point guard position, as well as the two and three. Wait and see.
Reggie probably won’t get on the court for feltbot’s fantasy team. But I wouldn’t count him out.